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Sunday 28 May 2006
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MOZAMBIQUE: HIV/AIDS threatening subsistence agriculture


[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]



©  UNICEF

The impact of HIV/AIDS on subsistence agriculture could threaten Mozambique's food supply

JOHANNESBURG, 24 August (PLUSNEWS) - HIV/AIDS is threatening subsistence agriculture in Mozambique, with "ominous implications" for the country's food supply, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) warned on Tuesday.

By 2020 the country will have lost over 20 percent of its agricultural labour force to HIV/AIDS, according to FAO. Mozambique and Namibia feature among the nine hardest-hit African countries, all in southern and eastern Africa, where FAO predicts a loss of agricultural labour to the disease.

More than 1.3 million Mozambicans in a population of 18 million are believed to be living with HIV/AIDS.

A new study on subsistence agriculture in Mozambique by consultant Anne Waterhouse has noted the loss of many varieties of grains, tubers, legumes and vegetables through HIV/AIDS, flood and drought. "This study documents an alarming trend affecting millions of the poorest rural households," said FAO HIV/AIDS expert Marcela Villarreal.

FAO found that 45 percent of respondents from HIV/AIDS-affected households interviewed said they had reduced the area under cultivation and 60 percent said they had reduced the number of crops grown.

The results showed that HIV/AIDS was also likely to have a "highly negative" impact on the information farmers accumulate about seeds through generations. "Most of the farmers use seeds that they produce themselves to grow their own crops; the way they pass on knowledge about how to identify, improve and conserve that seed is from parent to children, so what happens if you stop producing a certain seed type is that the knowledge around it is not passed on," Waterhouse said.

"It is important not to lose traditional crop varieties, because they act as an insurance policy against hunger since they are adapted to local conditions and will produce a minimal harvest even during Africa's recurrent droughts," she added.

The study commissioned by the FAO LinKS project, which explores the linkages between local knowledge, gender and biodiversity, interviewed about 90 men and women in three communities in the Chokwe district in Mozambique's southern Gaza province.

[ENDS]




 
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Links
· AIDS Media Center
· The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria
· International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS
· AEGIS
· International HIV/AIDS Alliance


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